What is MTHFR?
Probably something you’ve never heard of and even something your doctors have never heard of. It’s an enzyme that is used to convert inactive folic acid into its active form – 5-methyltetrahydrofolate or 5MTHF.
Why is MTHFR Important?
Well we all know how important folic acid is to prevent birth defects. Every woman who is trying to conceive is advised to take folic acid supplements. However, not everyone is capable of making MTHFR and converting the folic acid found in supplements into the active form of folic acid. 5MTHF is vital for healthy methylation, an important step in liver detoxification and helps prevent damage to DNA that can lead to birth defects and cancer. It turns out that the genetic defect that causes an inability to produce enough MTHFR is not uncommon, in fact, depending on the study and the population you look at, this defect occurs in up to 60% of the population.
What are the implications of an MTHFR defect?
- Inability to detoxify waste, pollutants and even excess hormones
- Recurrent pregnancy loss or miscarriage
- Greater predisposition to giving birth to children with birth defects such as cleft palate
- Greater risk of cancer
What Can Be Done About It?
Every woman in my practice who is trying to conceive is advised to take folic acid in it’s active form, 5MTHF. I never recommend inactive folic acid supplements. In some women, this is all that’s necessary. Others will have multiple such defects such that just supplying active folic acid makes them feel worse.
Want to Know if You Have the Defect?
You can order a test kit to determine all of your genetic defects here: https://www.23andme.com/en-ca/ (I have no affiliation with this company. Be aware that there are concerns about how this data is used by this company). I can also run a test specifically for the MTHFR defect through Gamma Dynacare.
Am I an Expert on MTHFR?
Nope, but I’m working on it. Dr. Ben Lynch is the most well informed naturopathic doctor regarding MTHFR.